The Christian Century magazine in the USA has recently blamed Israel for the decline in the Christian community in Bethlehem. Once again the canards of blame are used to incite feelings against the country.
A friend write the following letter which separates facts from fiction
The Christian Marks item "O Little Town" (January 26, 2010) blames the decline of the Christian population of Bethlehem on the Israeli security fence - and by implication, even on the existence of Israel itself: "The Christian population of Bethlehem was 92 percent in 1948, but now has dipped well below 50 percent."
The facts tell a different story. Christians began fleeing Bethlehem in 1995 when Arafat's Palestinian Authority took control of Bethlehem under the Oslo Accords, not in 2002 when the fence was built.
Through forced changes in the structure of Bethlehem's government and a campaign of intimidation, Arafat initiated a change in the city's composition. The intimidation has continued, including confiscation of Christian land and property, firebombing of Christian homes, economic boycotts, denial of employment, and even beatings and torture. It's no wonder that there has been a Christian exodus. Yet members of liberal Protestant churches continue to blame Israel.
Since 1948 the Christian community in Israel has more than quadrupled. Christians are safer in Israel than in the Palestinian territories. I hope that the Century's reporting on this will be more balanced.